The other day I lost it and yelled at my daughter. She was dragging her feet about clearing her craft projects off the table so we could eat dinner on it. I corralled every resource I had to stop myself, turn off the stove, and say, “I am going outside for a few minutes. Do not follow me.”
I sat on the front porch watching the sun set and listening to the birds, and thought about other times I had hit my limit and felt for the common denominator.
I was exhausted. We’d had a lot of activities and social events that week, and I had not made time for myself. I hadn’t made any time in my week to be creative. For me, that’s what Me Time looks like: a few rows of knitting, some time with my art journal, a walk with my camera.
No wonder I cracked.
Why ‘Me Time’?
Chronic stress increases the risk of all kinds of mental and physical health conditions. Rest is so important to our emotional, as well as physical, well-being. So why do we put it off? Why do we put ourselves last, and feel guilty when we “sneak off” to take care of ourselves?
When we get caught up in the pressure (whether it is internal or external) to do do do and never allow ourselves to rest, celebrate, have fun, or even just reflect, we will eventually hit a brick wall. We need to experience life, not just to-do list ourselves through it.
When you create more Me Time gaps in your schedule, you will get your other tasks done with more focus and joy than if you are pushing through while depleted.
Taking more Me Time – whatever feels like leisure and rest to you – will also give you the opportunity to check your internal stuff: Process things that have happened, get centered, and reconnect with your values and goals.
4 signs you need more Me Time
Everyone is irritating you
Everyone gets annoyed sometimes, but if you are feeling constantly irritated, you need to check out and be alone with yourself for a while. A regular feeling of frustration or irritation with no direct source tells you that you are in overload. You need to stop and refocus yourself.
You are losing it with your family
Are your reactions way over the top for the situation at hand? Huge emotional responses, even just snapping at your family members for their annoying (but perfectly normal) habits are signs that you have reached your limit and need to recharge. Your patience is nonexistent when you are tapped out.
You are feeling really jealous of others
This has always been a big tell for me. When I notice that I’m feeling really envious or jealous of someone else’s life, I know I need to stop and spend some Me Time to check in with myself, my values, and where I’m putting my time and my energy.
You have all the ability to create the life you want. So if you’re looking over the fence at someone else’s life and thinking, “I want that,” you need to spend some time getting clear about what’s off in your own life and how to create more of what you want.
You are getting sick at really inconvenient times
You come down with a cold right before a big event. Yeah, we all get sick (especially when we live with little people), but if the timing of your illnesses seems incredibly and consistently inconvenient, this may be a signal that you need more rest than you are allowing yourself. Your body is wise and will communicate to you what it needs. If you need a rest, it will make sure you get it. And if you still don’t pay attention, you risk getting sick in more and more catastrophic ways.
Do you recognize yourself here? Which of these is your biggest indicator of needing more Me Time?
How to get more Me Time into your life
You can make more time for you so you can be a happier, more patient mother – here’s how.
Make it super simple
Grab a quiet moment and make a list of the things you enjoy doing and that fill you up – including some longer activities and some short ones.
When you have a sliver of time, pull out your list and pick something. Or if you have room, make a spot in your house that is your Me Time nook.
It doesn’t have to take up much space or be fancy. It can be the shelf where you keep your book, some bags of your favorite tea, and a mug.
It can be a tiny set of watercolors and a journal that you can grab on the way out the door.
It can be the knitting basket next to your favorite chair.
Make it so easy for yourself to go straight to what you know fills you up, so you don’t get distracted and use that time for something else!
The most effective way to make sure you have enough time for you in your schedule is to actually put it on your calendar. In fact, put in on your calendar first, and then fit everything else around it.
My weekly schedule gets fit around my dance and yoga classes, and my weekend to-do list regularly includes items like “read a book” and “go for a walk.”
I know myself and my tendency to do do do, and I know that if I don’t see that reminder to rest every time I check my list, then I will likely not make time for it. And then I will end the weekend as tired as I began it!
Make it a habit
Scheduling more Me Time into your life needs to be a habit. Don’t wait until you are over wrought and yelling at your kids before you set aside time for you.
Think of it as preventative medicine, like flossing your teeth or getting your daily 30 minutes of movement. If you pay attention to scheduling time for you into your calendar for a few weeks it will become habitual.
Collect evidence of its value
If this is still feeling really selfish and impossible to you, here’s a practice you can try: collect evidence.
Notice how you feel and act on a day when you have not set aside any time for yourself. Do you feel tense? Irritable? How are you interacting with people? How is your attitude about your work? Do tasks challenges feel surmountable, or like major setbacks? What is your internal chatter sounding like?
Now pay attention on a day when you take some time that is just for you. How are you different? Are you more patient? More calm? More curious? Do you laugh more easily? Is your inner critic quieter?
This is a practice I give my coaching clients and they tell me that the person they are when they do more self-care is the person they enjoy being. They feel they are better parents, more efficient and effective at their work, and more comfortable in their own skin. But don’t take their word for it – try it yourself!
What is happening in your life that is telling you to schedule more Me Time as soon as possible? How will you do it?
Doña Bumgarner is a life coach for frustrated moms who are exhausted living in a culture that doesn’t support them as moms or as women. She helps them get in control of all the parts of their lives, so being them makes sense again.
Doña is also host of Nurturing Habit podcast, about the ways we nurture ourselves as whole women so we can live more complete and vibrant lives.
Find her on Instagram @nurturedmama and on Facebook @nurturedmamablog